An increasingly competitive business landscape, rising complexity, the digital revolution and an aging workforce are reshaping the way we need to look at HR. Ever-accelerating change makes business management no longer a matter of coping with the challenges that come our way, but require a much more pro-active approach and skilled teams.
A manifesto to place "Human Capacity Building" as one of the strategic pillars of business operations. Creating a culture of growth mindset, team thinking, and ownership as key for capacity building and agility in the business. A way to implement changes in a quick and agile way in your organisation.
If as an HR-department, we want to stay valuable for the business, we need to rethink how we can support the business to achieve their ambitious long-term strategy even better.
Which are the strengths of HR that support and facilitate the business strategy?
Strong employer branding
A strong employer brand is one of its most important assets to attain and attract talent, besides wages. Over the past several decades, employment has shifted from staying with the same company for a lifetime to a model where workers are being retained only if they can add value to an enterprise.
Workers are now in charge of their personal and professional growth and development—one reason that people list “opportunities for learning and development” among the top criteria for joining an organisation. Conversely, a lack of L&D is one of the key reasons people cite for leaving a company. Traditionally, learning focused solely on improving productivity. Today, learning also contributes to employ-ability.
Building a strong employer brand is a shared responsibility but HR often is the face, and first impression workers have with the company. Early in the employee journey, first impressions are created at onboarding.
As the workforce in many companies becomes increasingly changing and globally dispersed, HR can help to build a value-based culture and a sense of community. Millennials are particularly interested in working for value-based, sustainable companies that contribute to the welfare of society.
Value-based recruiting and career development
Moving away from attracting and retaining functional talent to attracting and retaining T-shaped talent. T-shaped workers have a broad knowledge covering a wide range of different domains/skills combined with in-depth knowledge of 1 or 2 specific areas.
Improved function descriptions
Job descriptions need a switch from a checklist of tasks to creating adaptable role descriptors that focus on agile capabilities and cultural fit. Moving from motivating employees extrinsically to leaning more towards intrinsic motivators.
Moving from organisation driven career paths to more flexible employee driven career paths. HR will need to respond positively to employees’ aspirations and ambitions and help them to expand their skill set in line with the companies’ priorities for the future.
Increased employee engagement
The most important way to engage employees is to provide them with opportunities to learn and develop new competencies. Research suggests that lifelong learning contributes to higher performance and happiness.
A happy employee is not always a productive employee. Higher performance relates when highly engaged employees are challenged and given the skills to grow and develop within their chosen career path, they are more likely to be energized by new opportunities.
Agile learning culture
As said by Alvin Toffler, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”. As L&D experts, we will need to offer continuous learning focused on flexibility, collaboration, and speed to address changing business needs.
Moving from being on the fringes of change and transformation to crafting and driving a culture and environment that enables agility
Moving from a siloed skills framework to a cross-functional framework
Moving from one-size-fits-all employee development plans to employee and team driven development paths that embed and sustain the transformation to agile. “Learning is the key to innovation and improvement in any organisation,” says Dr Hayward. “Agile working requires a culture where experimentation, risk-taking, and learning from failure are encouraged.
Talent based Agile teams
Moving from focusing on individuals to focusing on teams. Hierarchical, fixed organisation structures need to be replaced to team-based, networked, and flexible organisation structures.
HR can facilitate this by organising team buildings that improve team cohesion. The HR BP also plays an important role in assisting the manager to build the ideal team with the right values and competences to achieve the strategic objectives of the organisation.
A key role of HR is ensuring that the organisation has the right people performing well in leadership roles at all levels. HR can facilitate this by developing programs aimed at re- and upskilling managers and transforming them into future-ready role models.
The digital transformation of HR is an inevitable component in the modern workplace. HR must focus on improving their processes to digitalize workplace practices. HR can do this by adopting new tools and technologies that enable hybrid working.
At the same time, L&D must be prepared to quickly launch capability-building programs, e.g., if workers require training on new technologies.
Blended learning journeys
To quickly integrate new skills and new competences in the organisation, HR will implement a blended learning approach, bringing just in time just enough learning within the workflow. As a result, many L&D functions transform from stand-alone programs to learning journeys. Instead of fixed programs, HR offers continuous learning opportunities that include fieldwork, pre- and post-classroom digital learning, social learning, on-the-job coaching, workshops, and individual mentoring. The main objectives of a learning journey are to help people develop the required new competencies in the most effective and efficient way and to support the transfer of learning to the job.
Strategic Workforce Management
When business priorities are defined at strategic level, HR will assess that current staff can achieve the objectives. Are there enough resources and do they possess the right skills and competences to get the job done? HR can manage a scalable workforce by recruiting the best-in-class profiles and closing the capability gaps.
HR as a partner
To conclude, HR must embrace a broader role and needs to transition from a support department to a strategic partner for the business. Strategic HR partners can help drive individual, team, and organisational performance by:
Connecting HR efforts and initiatives to business objectives
Building HR programs, policies, and initiatives strategically
This ambitious challenge will not only contribute to enhance the organisation's overall performance, but it will also build a best-in-class employer.